Ain’t so smart

Marilyn v. Savant has the biggest brain on the planet and likes to sit on motorcycles.

It’s a happy day for me when I can catch Marilyn vos Savant, supposedly the world’s smartest woman, in an error. For those not familiar with the suspiciously named Ms. vos S., she — according to her Web site — “was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for five years under ‘Highest IQ’ for both childhood and adult scores” and “has since been inducted into the Guinness Hall of Fame.” She also publishes a weekly column in Parade magazine, where she shares stimulating brain-teasers and smarty-pants opinions on all sorts of random subjects.

Well, I hate to gloat, but I’ve found a case where Marilyn got one wrong. In a recent column, she printed the following question (note the clever Three’s Company reference):

Jack, Janet and Chrissy meet at their corner coffeehouse and buy half a dozen doughnuts. Each friend always tells the truth or always lies. Jack says that he got one doughnut, but Janet says that Jack got two, and Chrissy says that Jack got more than three. On the other hand, all three friends agree that Janet got two. Assuming that each friend got at least one and that no doughnut was cut and divided, how many doughnuts did each friend get?


Movie title du jour

Today’s title is for a comedy set in the world of higher learning — maybe Harvard, or maybe Yale, which as the alma mater of George W. Bush is an easy target. It features the madcap hijinks of a couple of unsuccessful standup comedians who, for reasons yet undetermined, are on the run from the mob. While hiding out on a college campus, they are mistaken for visiting professors and zany hilarity ensues. The title:

“Academia Nuts.”

Not everything is illuminated

I work very hard to be judicious with the vast power conferred upon me by this blog. This means, as much as possible, keeping to the positive, focusing on the good things in life and in culture. But every once in a while I feel obligated to warn you, the innocent and delicate public at large, away from something particularly pernicious.

For instance, you may have read Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Everything Is Illuminated and be asking yourself, why don’t I go ahead and see the movie as well, just for curiosity’s sake? Or conversely, you may be thinking you can save yourself the trouble of reading it by the age-old subterfuge of watching the film instead.

Paranoid android? Maybe. Maybe not.

Note to Radiohead: Stay off the streets.

All the music biz talk these days is about Radiohead, how they’ve broken free of the industry by selling their new album without the help (or is it, now, burden?) of a record company. And good for them. Their approach is extremely smart: by letting people name their own price, they look groovy and egalitarian. By offering a deluxe $80 version for the hardcore fans, they guarantee that they’ll still make tons of money. And by cutting the jackals of the Long Plastic Hallway out of the loop, they get to keep all the lucre for themselves.

But if I was Thom Yorke and company, I would be watching my back. I wouldn’t walk the streets without protection, and I’d get the corner table in the restaurant and sit facing the door. Don’t forget that the record industry and the mob are, for all intents and purposes, one and the same. Am I saying that goons hired by, say, the RIAA will try to make an example of Radiohead? Only in my most paranoid delusions would I think that. But your most paranoid delusions sometimes turn out to be right. It won’t look like assassination, of course…it’ll be an “obsessed fan,” or maybe mysterious overdoses…anyway, I hope I’m wrong. But, seriously, Radiohead, be careful out there.